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Women gets 20 years for shooting a warning shot at abusive husband. - Judge denies stand your ground law

Posted by on May. 11, 2012 at 6:53 PM
  • 12 Replies

 

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New controversy over 'stand your ground' case in Jacksonville

4:02 p.m. EST, May 11, 2012

TALLAHASSEE -- As Florida reviews its "stand your ground" law in the wake of the Trayvon Martin killing, Marissa Alexander on Friday received a 20-year sentence for firing a shot in what she claims was self-defense and her backers say was a case of her standing her ground.

Alexander, a 31-year-old mother of three, was sentenced in Jacksonville under a mandatory minimum law for firing one shot in the direction of a spouse with a record of domestic violence in a 2010 dispute.

A judge had rejected Alexander's "stand your ground" defense, saying she could have escaped instead of firing. Florida courts have often recognized a common law doctrine that says when someone is acting in self-defense in their home, they don't have a duty to retreat first.

Alexander's case has a twist from the usual "stand your ground" claim: she didn't shoot her spouse. She fired, but didn't hit him.

Her case has drawn immense attention, and gained even more notoriety than it likely otherwise would have, as the state has been gripped by a new debate over self-defense laws in the wake of the Martin shooting earlier this year.

"If we want to protect self-defense in Florida, we can't have a 20-year mandatory minimum hanging over the heads of people who fire warning shots instead of just killing their attacker," said Greg Newburn, Florida Project Director for Families Against Mandatory Minimums.

Newburn will attend the first public hearing of the task force appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to review the "stand your ground" law on June 12 in Sanford, where 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer. The acknowledged shooter, George Zimmerman, claimed self-defense, but is now facing second degree murder charges.

Angela Corey, the Jacksonville state attorney and special prosecutor handling the Martin killing, will obviously fight any attempt to use the "stand your ground" defense in that case. And she said it doesn't apply to Alexander, either. Her office had offered a plea bargain of three years, but Alexander rejected it, hoping to convince a jury she had been in fear for her life.

"She got two shots at her self-defense theory," Corey told the Huffington Post on Thursday. "Neither a judge nor a jury bought it."

"It's a pattern we see all across the state," Newburn said. "[Defendants] turn down a plea deal because they think they're innocent…If you're guilty and you know it, you take the plea."

In Friday's sentencing, Judge James Daniel said he had no choice under state law but to give Alexander the 20-year sentence.

"Under the state's 10-20-life law, a conviction for aggravated assault where a firearm has been discharged carries a minimum and maximum sentence of 20 years without regarding to any extenuating or mitigating circumstances that may be present, such as those in this case," he said.

Now Alexander's options are few. She can appeal, which Newburn says she will do. And the governor and Cabinet can grant her clemency – that is, if one of the members of the clemency board can bring up her case, because Alexander herself can't apply until she's served ten years, or half her sentence.

In court Friday, Corey said Alexander's shot could have hit her husband or his children. She told the Huffington Post that Alexander "was angry" when she fired the shot. "She was not in fear."

That's a distinction that Linda Osmundson, director of Community Action Stops Abuse, the domestic violence shelter in St. Petersburg, finds difficult to draw.

"The thing I see they're hanging their hat on is that she was angry," Osmundson said. "Well, wouldn't you be angry if someone was beating you up?"

In the late 1980's, Osmundson was instrumental in Florida's establishing the possibility of executive clemency for battered women who kill their abusers. About 30 women went free over the next 15 years as a result.

"Most of the women killed their abusers in self-defense because they thought they were going to die, or their child was going to die," Osmundson said. "But almost all those women got life sentences."

The "stand your ground" law was passed in 2005.

Alexander's now ex-husband, Rico Gray, 36, has been arrested twice for domestic battery, and Alexander had filed an injunction against him, which was active on the night that landed her in jail. She, too, has been charged with domestic battery, in an assault on Gray four months after the shooting. Alexander pleaded no contest to that charge after her trial in March and was sentenced to time served.

Newburn said domestic violence is a key factor in Alexander's case.

"I think the background of abuse is relevant in terms of her state of mind when she fired the weapon," he said. "There's nothing mutually exclusive about anger and fear."

Meanwhile, Corey and Alexander's supporters continue to clash in the national media, which is now drawn to another Florida controversy over its "stand your ground" law. Alexander's family has launched a petition drive and created a web page to solicit defense funds.


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by on May. 11, 2012 at 6:53 PM
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Replies (1-10):
im23vaughn
by Silver Member on May. 11, 2012 at 6:55 PM
1 mom liked this
What I don't understand if this woman was a 31 year old woman with a masters degree. They say she never has been in legal trouble. And to top it off, she had a restraining order against her husband at the time. From her account, she fired a warning shot. No one got hurt. She got 20 years in jail.
lovingwifey
by Member on May. 11, 2012 at 6:57 PM
She should have really shot him to make it worth it.

This is sad.
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
SuperChicken
by on May. 11, 2012 at 7:00 PM

Wait, she got 20 years for not shooting him?  yeah, something fishy is going on.   Men who kidnap rape and kill little kids get off on less than that. 

im23vaughn
by Silver Member on May. 11, 2012 at 7:04 PM


Quoting SuperChicken:

Wait, she got 20 years for not shooting him?  yeah, something fishy is going on.   Men who kidnap rape and kill little kids get off on less than that. 

FL seems to have a mandatory sentencing if you get convicted of a felony gun charge.

GLWerth
by Gina on May. 11, 2012 at 7:11 PM
1 mom liked this

Once again, FL is just screwed up!

OK, so for NOT killing or injuring her abusive ex, against whom she had a restraining order, while protecting her newborn child and herself (in her own home, her "castle"), she gets 20 years?

And other folk are not even arrested (Until someone makes a big noise about it) when someone they were actively pursuing is dead?

Wow. Just wow.

Sisteract
by Whoopie on May. 11, 2012 at 7:37 PM

We must not be privy to all the info that the jury heard-

Della529
by Matlock on May. 11, 2012 at 8:00 PM

 I think she should have been offered a Pre-Trial Diversion option. 

But I also realize she broke the terms of her bond when she went to his home after she was given bail.

She might have fired into the ceiling, but the trajectory indicates the bullet ricocheted which, according to FL law, seems to change the situation.

I do not agree with mandatory minimums.

STARRYVONN
by on May. 11, 2012 at 8:09 PM

 Sad and crazy. Seems the world is going backwards and slowly taking womens rights away. Totally horrible... makes me disturbed as a woman and mother to 2 girls.

Quoting im23vaughn:

What I don't understand if this woman was a 31 year old woman with a masters degree. They say she never has been in legal trouble. And to top it off, she had a restraining order against her husband at the time. From her account, she fired a warning shot. No one got hurt. She got 20 years in jail.

 

Starryvonnblowing kisses

Stephanie329
by Platinum Member on May. 11, 2012 at 8:19 PM

 Other.

She should have never been prosecuted in the first place. This is enraging, I pray that someone of power in Florida has a brain cell left to help this woman.

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